NFIB Weekly News
NFIB Weekly News
Leading the News
Small Business Owners Anticipate Improved Economic Outlook
NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index (7/14) improved by 6.2 points to 100.6 in June. The NFIB Uncertainty Index also decreased one point to 81, with owners anticipating improving sales as the economy continues to re-open. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “We’re starting to see positive signs of increased consumer spending, but there is still much work to be done to get back to pre-crisis levels.”
NFIB: One In Five Small Businesses Plan Layoffs After Using PPP Loan Business Climate
Bloomberg (7/10, Niquette) reported, “An increasing number of U.S. small businesses plan to lay off workers after using a federal coronavirus relief loan as many states are slowing or changing reopening plans amid a spike in cases, a new survey shows. About 22% of firms that received Paycheck Protection Program assistance have fired workers or expect to lay off one or more workers once their loan runs out, up from 14% last month, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey of its members.” In the survey, the NFIB said, “As owners finish using their loan, more are finding that economic conditions are unable to support current staffing levels.” Bloomberg suggests the results of the NFIB survey (7/6-7/7) “add to evidence that the outlook for the labor market could worsen in the coming weeks as stimulus aid expires and coronavirus cases spike in states including Florida, Texas and Arizona.”
President Trump Signs Five-Week PPP Extension
Reuters (7/4, Johnson) reported President Trump on Saturday “signed into law a deadline extension to August 8 for small businesses to apply for relief loans under a federal aid program to help businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House said.” According to Reuters, “The extension to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which was launched in April to keep Americans on company payrolls and off unemployment assistance, gives business owners an additional five weeks to apply for funding assistance plagued by problems.”
The AP (7/4) reported that around $130 billion out of the $660 billion “approved for the program remains eligible for businesses...though demand for the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much dried up in recent weeks.”
Small Businesses Struggle To Regain Footing As Economy Begins To Recover
The Hill (6/21, Lane) reported that while “an unprecedented flood of federal support may have helped larger companies stay afloat,” many small businesses “continue to face severe economic pain, suggesting the recovery from the coronavirus-fueled recession will be slow and uneven.” While May saw more than 2 million people return to work, “many smaller firms — and the typically low-wage workers who depend on them — have fallen through the cracks despite federal programs intended to help them.” According to a new research paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “more than 3 million small business owners were forced to close shop between February and April... roughly 22 percent of all small businesses.”
In Wake Of Pandemic, New Trump Order Temporarily Suspends Work Visas
Media coverage of the President’s executive order on immigration was largely unfavorable, with reports highlighting business opposition and casting Trump as using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to implement his agenda. Politico (6/22, McCaskill) indicates “the new order extends restrictions originally enacted in April due to the coronavirus pandemic and expands on the previous directive, which blocked most people from receiving a permanent residency visa – or green card.” The new order also “prohibits visas for most guest workers who come to the US for temporary or seasonal work, but exempts farm workers, among others.” The Washington Examiner (6/22, Giaritelli) estimates that “in all, the visas being suspended would prevent approximately 525,000 immigrants from entering the US through the end of 2020.”
The Hill (6/22, Samuels) reports “a senior administration official said that the visa restrictions would free up more than half a million jobs for workers already in the country.” However, adds The Hill, “many companies are laying off workers due to the pandemic, and economic experts have acknowledged some of those jobs may not return.”
Businesses, Workers Battle Over Coronavirus Legal Liability
CNBC (6/19, Palmer) reported that the concerns of business owners “worried they’ll see an uptick in lawsuits from sick workers and customers” as states begin to reopen has “caught the attention of Congress, as lawmakers weigh the possibility of passing another Covid-19 stimulus package.” Senate Majority Leader McConnell “said he would push to include liability protections for businesses” in new legislation, with “broad support from Republicans in Congress, who argue businesses need greater protection” from such lawsuits. However, Democrats including House Speaker Pelosi “have said they’d fight limits to litigation, arguing such proposals could restrict workers’ right to sue” and “shield bad businesses that aren’t doing enough to protect their employees.”
White House, Congressional GOP Consider Limits On New Round Of Payments
The Washington Post (7/9, Stein, Werner) reported, “The White House and congressional Republicans are exploring whether to restrict the number of Americans receiving the next round of stimulus payments,” further than the income limits in the previous package, though they “may ultimately revive the original proposal because of the difficult administrative challenges created by trying to narrowly target the checks.” Senate Majority Leader McConnell has suggested targeting “those earning under $40,000, but it was not clear whether he was suggesting that would be the new cap.” McConnell also mentioned those in the hospitality business as particularly harmed by the pandemic.
Small Businesses Turn To Bankruptcy As Coronavirus Strain Intensifies Small Business Marketing
The Wall Street Journal (7/11, Shifflett, Subscription Publication) reported the number of small businesses filing for bankruptcy in response to the coronavirus is also likely to increase thanks to a new law that makes doing so easier and less financially burdensome, according to lawyers.
Big Banks Show Little Interest In Making Loans Through Fed Main Street Program
The New York Times (7/8, Smialek) reported, “The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on Wednesday released a list of lenders that have signed up for the central bank’s midsize business lending program and are willing to make loans to new customers through the initiative.” The Times points out only Bank of America has “so far agreed to participate and take on new clients, based on the Boston Fed’s map,” and “lenders like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are not listed.” Many lenders say “that they are hearing of only limited borrower interest in the program.”
China Unlikely To Help Spur Other Nations’ Economic Rebounds
The Wall Street Journal (7/12, Jeong, Fairless, Subscription Publication) reported that while the demand for raw materials and other goods from China helped support economic rebounds in a number of countries during the 2008-09 financial crisis, China is not expected to provide that kind of help this year. China is dealing with a harder blow to its economy than in 2008-09, and its ability to help other countries dealing with the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic is limited. In addition, China is now more self-sufficient and may need to buy less from other countries.
US Economic Recovery Slowing As Coronavirus Cases Rise
In a front-page analysis headlined “After The Fastest Recession In U.S. History, The Economic Recovery May Be Fizzling,” Washington Post (7/11, A1) Global Economics Correspondent David J. Lynch said that if there “were still hopes of a ‘V-shaped’ comeback from the novel coronavirus shutdown, this past week should have put an end to them. The pandemic shock, which economists once assumed would be only a temporary business interruption, appears instead to be settling into a traditional, self-perpetuating recession.” Lynch adds the economy “could begin shedding jobs again this month and in August, Morgan Stanley warned Friday. Many small businesses that received forgivable government loans have exhausted their funds while some larger companies are starting to thin their payrolls in preparation for a longer-than-expected downturn.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg (7/11, Sheehey) reports Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan “said Friday that U.S. growth would be faster if all Americans wore masks” while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. “estimates a national mask mandate could prevent the U.S. from losing almost 5% of its gross domestic product.”
Biden Pitches $700B “Build Back Better” Proposal To Boost Economy
The AP (7/9, Barrow) reported that Joe Biden on Thursday “turned his campaign against President Donald Trump toward the economy,” unveiling “a New Deal-like economic agenda while drawing a sharp contrast with a billionaire incumbent he said has abandoned working-class Americans amid cascading crises.” In a speech “at a metal works firm near his childhood hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania,” Biden outlined “a comprehensive agenda that he touted as the most aggressive government investment in the US economy since World War II. He also accused Trump of ignoring the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis while encouraging division amid a national reckoning with systemic racism.” Of Trump, Biden said, “His failures come with a terrible human cost and a deep economic toll. Time and again, working families are paying the price for this administration’s incompetence.”
Some Small Businesses Using Commercial Cards To Buy Stock
PYMNTS (7/9) reported Capital on Tap Head of Growth Alex Miles says small business credit cards can be more versatile than business owners may believe. Miles’ firm “wields the small business credit card as a tool to connect small businesses to financing.” However, Miles has found small business are using their cards to purchase stock, adding that the working capital optimization of such cards is attractive for businesses looking to procure inventory.
Op-Ed: Strong Cybersecurity Strategy Is No Longer A Luxury For Small Businesses Wages and Benefits
In an op-ed on the CNBC (7/9) website, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) wrote, “The pandemic has seriously impacted the health of businesses everywhere, and for most employers, getting back to business cannot come soon enough. But while businesses across the country prepare to welcome back their customers, hackers and cyber criminals are actively infiltrating and exploiting small business databases. Cyberattacks have skyrocketed worldwide as criminals capitalize on the confusion and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent press release, the FBI characterized the number of online schemes to swindle both businesses and individuals out of money and personal data as ‘truly breathtaking.’” He adds, “Earlier this year, I introduced the bipartisan SECURE Small Business Act to help small business owners access information on data protection best practices and enable them to band together to purchase cybersecurity products at lower prices. A strong cybersecurity strategy is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity.”
Amazon Reveals 10 States With Most Digital Entrepreneurs
Fox Business (7/9, Conklin) reported Amazon announced Thursday “the top 10 states with the most digital entrepreneurs based on the number of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling in Amazon’s online stores.” The company “revealed the top 10 states with the most SMBs selling in Amazon’s stores per capita, as well as the top 10 states with the fastest-growing number of SMBs selling in Amazon’s stores per capita.” Iowa topped both categories. Amazon Head of Small Business Empowerment Keri Cusick said in a statement, “Iowa is home to thousands of small and medium-sized businesses selling in Amazon’s stores, and we’re working hard to support their growth despite the global pandemic.” As CEO of an Iowa-based business, Blake Anderson “said Amazon has helped his store reach more customers than his team could have on their own, and it has helped his business ‘continue to grow more than 90 percent year-over-year.’”
CEO Offers Advice To Small Business Owners Struggling During Pandemic
Forbes (7/2, Catmull) highlighted several key pieces of wisdom offered by Voya Retirement and Employee Benefits CEO Charles Nelson that small business owners “can consider using to get you through your own business challenges” such as the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. According to the article, Nelson’s mantras for helping him through this time are “not all storms come to disrupt our lives, some are opportunities to clear our path.” Nelson also found industrialist Henry Ford’s mantra that said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it” to be helpful.
Wells Fargo Executive On Merchants Adapting To Pandemic Via Digital
PYMNTS (7/3) reported Wells Fargo Executive Vice President and Merchant Services head Colleen Taylor small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, leaving most scrambling to digital channels to at least partially make up for the lost revenue. Ultimately, merchants’ digital enhancements are likely to stick post-pandemic, meaning businesses could look different than before the shutdown.
Small Businesses Switch Banks At Higher Rate Due To Frustration With PPP
American Banker (6/22, Prior, Subscription Publication) reported, “Frustrated with the bottleneck for assistance, more small-business owners are considering switching their banks, according to Greenwich Associates, which provides data to the financial services industry.” And if the forgiveness process “proves as difficult as applying for the loans in the first place,” more are expected to leave. Greenwich Managing Director Chris McDonnell said the churn rate of small-business accounts is three times the norm, “and he attributes the spike primarily to customers’ soured feelings over their PPP experiences.”
More Than 1.3M Applied For Unemployment Benefits Last Week
The AP (7/9, Rugaber) reported, “More than 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a historically high pace that shows that many employers are still laying people off.” The AP adds that what it calls “the persistently elevated level of layoffs” are happening “as a spike in virus cases has forced six states to reverse their move to reopen businesses.” The six states, it adds, “make up one-third of the US economy.” Still, the AP reports the number “fell from 1.4 million in the previous week,” and those “receiving jobless benefits dropped 700,000 to 18 million” which “suggests that some companies are continuing to rehire workers.” So far, the AP says, “the economy has regained only about one-third of the jobs that vanished in March and April.” Reuters (7/9, Mutikani) says the number of applicants “dropped to a near four-month low last week, but a record 32.9 million people were collecting unemployment checks in the third week of June, supporting expectations the labor market would take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hiring Hit All-Time High In May Following April’s Plunge
The AP (7/7, Rugaber) reported the Labor Department revealed last week that “the job market took a big step toward healing in May, though plenty of damage remains, as a record level of hiring followed record layoffs in March and April.” The AP adds that “the figures, from the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, illustrate the whiplash the economy has experienced since the pandemic intensified in mid-March. Layoffs soared in March to a stunning 11.5 million, roughly four times the peak during the 2008-2009 recession ... But in May they fell back to pre-pandemic levels of 1.8 million.” The AP adds that in April, hiring “plunged...to 4 million, the lowest level since 2011, but jumped to 6.5 million in May,” which was “the most hires on record.”
Trump Says He Backs Additional Direct Payments, Changes To Unemployment Benefits
CNBC (7/1, Breuninger) reported on its website that on Wednesday, President Trump “said...that he supports another round of direct payments to Americans – and claimed he wants to give out more money than Democrats have already proposed.” The Washington Examiner (7/1, Krishan) reported Trump said during an interview on Fox Business, “I support it, but it has to be done properly. And I support larger numbers actually than the Democrats, but it’s got to be done properly.”
Three States, Major Cities Raise Minimum Wage
The Hill (7/1, Elis) reported states including Illinois, Nevada, and Oregon, along with a number of major cities, are enacting higher minimum wages effective July 1. Those opposed to the hikes hold that increases augment labor costs, and in turn, unemployment.
New Unemployment Claims Continue To Fall At Slow Rate
The AP (6/18, Rugaber) reported that “U.S. employers are still shedding jobs at a heavy rate, a trend that points to a slow and prolonged recovery from the recession.” The AP added, “the number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits barely fell last week to 1.5 million, the government said Thursday,” which “was down from a peak of nearly 7 million in March, and...marked an 11th straight weekly drop.” However, “the number is still more than twice the record high that existed before the pandemic,” and “the total number of people receiving jobless aid remains a lofty 20.5 million.” The New York Times (6/18, Casselman, Hsu) said, “not all of the unemployment claims reported on Thursday necessarily reflect new layoffs,” as “some states are working through backlogs of claims filed earlier in the crisis,” and “in other cases, people filing under multiple programs may be double-counted.”
CBO: Extending Enhanced Jobless Benefits Could Hurt Economy Next Year
CQ Roll Call (6/4, Lerman) reported, “Five out of six workers would receive more in expanded unemployment benefits than they would earn on the job if Congress extends those benefits through January, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report Thursday.” That would lead to higher unemployment “both in the second half of this year and next year, according to the CBO, than if lawmakers let the added $600 weekly benefit expire July 31 as scheduled.”